Juana Lomi, an FDNY medical emergency technician, came to the aid of hundreds of injured on 9/11.
On Tuesday, as she stood looking at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza a decade later, Lomi took a moment to remember her co-workers who died and gave thanks that she's still alive.
"Seeing the beautiful waterfalls makes me feel people recognize our work as first responders," she said. "The memorial does justice to everyone on that day who died and lived.''
Lomi, who has been an EMT for 22 years, remains on the job responding to medical emergency calls in lower Manhattan.
She was one of several first responders who were at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza yesterday morning as part of a visit organized by the city. First responders who descended on Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks a decade ago were excluded from the 10th anniversary ceremonies earlier this month.
City officials reserved the memorial's opening on Sept. 11 for the victims' families.
Private visits for first responders are scheduled twice a month until the end of the year. The FDNY received 15,000 passes, said FDNY spokesman Jim Long. "They will all be used. They were all sent out and distributed fairly," he said.
A steady rain drizzled over the quiet ceremony Tuesday, which was flanked with several bagpipe marching bands and about 100 uniformed NYPD officers.
"This is good. I guess it's the rain that kept people away," Lomi said, in reference to the sparse attendance. "Also, you have to remember that it is very painful to come here. There is always a feeling of emptiness."
After the brief salute from uniformed officers, Kelly said first responders should visit the memorial.
"I think they should reflect and commemorate together," Kelly said. "They were the first in this battle. This memorial is really soothing, and it reminds me of the sacrifices the first responders made and their commitment to courage."